Microsoft Rolls Out Windows MultiPoint Server 2011

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011, the Microsoft shared computing solution for classrooms and small businesses, is expected to be released to MSDN and TechNet subscribers sometime this week, according the company.

A trial version is available now at the Microsoft Download Center. Microsoft's volume licensing customers will be able to download Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 on March 1.

The server connects to dumb terminals consisting of a screen, keyboard and mouse, and not to individual PCs. This arrangement is designed to save hardware costs for organizations. However, those running applications such as Microsoft Office on the system still have to pay for that licensing separately.

Microsoft released Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 to original equipment manufacturing partners earlier this month. The company expects that the public will start to see server hardware products from those OEMs in mid-April of this year.

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 will be available from Microsoft and its partners via open commercial, academic and OEM academic licensing. The server is offered in two editions. The "standard" edition supports up to 10 connected sessions, while the "premium" edition works with up to 20 connected sessions. There appears to be no academic licensing option available for the standard edition.

The actual number of connections available to a Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 deployment is limited based on the constraints of the hardware, Microsoft's blog suggests. Microsoft's Planning Guide describes three 64-bit hardware scenarios, based on the types of applications deployed: "productivity," "mixed" and "video intensive." The optimal server configuration for video-intensive apps appears to be a quad-core or eight-core CPU with 8 GB of RAM. Microsoft recommends using RemoteFX or equivalent Remote Desktop Protocol technology when running 15 to 20 remotely connected thin clients with full-motion video.

Premium edition users will get domain-join and Hyper-V virtualization capabilities, which aren't available in the standard edition. Only the premium edition can "be a Hyper-V host used to run virtual machines," according to the Deployment Guide. However, both editions "can be deployed as a guest operating system running on a Hyper-V host server," the guide explains.

Microsoft provides a list of the new server features here. The one feature favored most by teachers is "block all stations." It freezes all student screens to get their attention, according to a blog post by James Duffus, group program manager for Windows MultiPoint Server.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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